Monday, November 30, 2020


Sandee Brawarsky


Looking Inward in the New Year

The caretaker of the only shul in Rangoon, Burma, posted this notice just outside the sanctuary before Rosh Hashanah, 2007:

Melancholy Russian soul flourishing in immigrants

In an interview, the Moscow-born author, who immigrated to the United States at the age of 7, admits that she, too, has a lingering Russian soul. Her well-written and very enjoyable first novel recasts Tolstoy, as its title suggests, observing immigrants from the former Soviet Union, body and soul.

New books challenge readers to revitalize their Judaism

Sounded every morning during this month of Elul, the shofar is a call to review, rethink, renew, revitalize, to shake things up a bit, to go deeper. This season, a number of new books also challenge readers to think anew about their connection to Judaism and to Israel, to their ritual practice and religious lives.

Young Manhattanite’s diary of old is new again

She learned that her building was expanding its bike room and had cleaned out an area where these trunks, whose owners had moved on, had sat unopened for decades. Amid the chaos, a building porter told her that he had found a young girl\'s diary and gave her the small book with its crackling leather cover and chrome lock.

Book details journey to a father’s distant land — Kurdish ‘Jerusalem’

\"My father had staked his life on the notion that the past mattered more than anything.He sublimated homesickness into a career.\"

Urban love story brings Berlin’s past to the present

Winger, an American who has lived in Berlin for the last five years, grew up in Cambridge, Mass., along with long periods in Kenya and Mexico, as well as New York City. The daughter of Harvard anthropologists, she picked up their skills of observation, which she has fine-tuned in her work as a professional photographer and in this beautifully written fictional debut.

‘Simplexity’ explains the methods to the madness

A handshake might seem to be a simple, even thoughtless social exchange. But behind the meeting of hands are a lot of neural firings, tactile feedback, control of muscles, depth perception; it\'s a ritual that grows out of a long tradition of greetings and social cues.

Novelist Warren Adler back in a New York state of mind

Warren Adler, 80, talks about his new novel

New haggadahs bring fresh approaches to celebration

This season, several new haggadahs raise new questions. New interpretations bring new approaches to the seder, enabling readers and participants to bring new layers of meaning to their own celebrations of the holiday.

Books: Why choosing rationally might not be so easy

Dan Ariely is an MIT professor who served beer in a brewery and dressed in a waiter\'s outfit as part of his research into decision making. A leading behavioral economist, Ariely has heightened abilities to observe what\'s going on around him, from tiny details to the big picture. His uncommon findings and their wider applications are presented in \"Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions\".

The Bible for dummies — and experts

In \"How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now\" (Free Press, $35) -- which recently won the 2007 Jewish book of the year prize of the National Jewish Book Awards -- Kugel\'s interest is not only in what the text says, but in what a modern reader is to make of it.

A different attic’s holocaust secrets

Joseph Hollander left the untold story of his life packed up in a suitcase, waiting to be found.

Book captures before and after of Israel’s Ethiopian Jews

A woman of biblical beauty, a dark-eyed Ethiopian gazing directly at the camera, appears on the cover of a new book of photographs, \"Transformations: From Ethiopia to Israel\" by Ricki Rosen (Reality Check Productions, $45). She\'s wearing white embroidered robes, her hair covered with a kerchief. Flip to the back cover and fast forward 13 years, and the woman, with the hint of a smile, is dressed fashionably in an orange sweater, her hair falling loosely in tiny braids.

Books: Brits behaving badly

Interview with author Charlotte Mendelson about her novel \"When We Were Bad\".

An Orthodox ‘cast-off’ holds God accountable

Dressed in black, Shalom Auslander wears three tiny silver blocks on a chain that falls close to his neck, with Hebrew letters spelling out the word \"Acher,\" or other. This was a gift from his wife when he completed his memoir, \"Foreskin\'s Lament.\" Acher was the name given to Elisha ben Abuya, a learned second-century rabbi, after he adopted heretical opinions.

Books: A stranger on a journey

In Amy Bloom\'s novel \"Away,\" Lillian Leyb makes her way from the Lower East Side to Seattle and then Alaska, hoping to get to Siberia to find her daughter.

Chart a new course with these spiritual guides for the New Year

As we think about rewriting our personal narratives in the New Year, adding new pages and chapters, several new books inspire new visions, renewed creativity and new relationships between the calendar and a sense of holiness.

Books: Exile from Egypt through a daughter’s eyes

Lucette Lagnado, an award-winning investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal, portrays her father and the cosmopolitan Cairo he loved and had to flee in 1963 when life became exceedingly difficult for the Jews, in the decade after King Farouk\'s fall and Gamal Abdel Nasser\'s ascent to power.

Author’s advice on sex and intimacy makes her hot stuff

I open Esther Perel\'s new book on the bus, and I know that my seatmate is staring at the cover photo of a man and woman in bed not touching beneath the red sheets. \"Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic & the Domestic\" (HarperCollins) has caught the man\'s attention, but he maintains the bus rider\'s code and doesn\'t ask about it. Perel\'s book has also captured the attention of large numbers of readers, journalists and producers.

Books to remember this summer by

Our summers have markers, memories that trigger a specific time: The summer of the walk on the moon, Hurricane Bob or the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles; personal events like a high school prom, a kitchen renovation or a houseguest who long overstays.

Oy vey! You should read what they’re writing about them — in books yet

So I read this season\'s selection of books with perhaps a different eye and an increased curiosity. There are serious books about Jewish mothers, lighthearted books, how-to volumes and memoirs and some manage to cross categories. Some offer knowing advice, others observations and jokes. The best are those that are open, honest and wise, not preachy or sentimental.

Call to ‘write and record’ brings new books on Shoah

\"Write and record,\" historian Simon Dubnow urged his fellow Jews, as he was taken to his death in Riga. Over the decades since Dubnow\'s murder in 1941, many have taken his words to heart, and scholars, survivors, novelists, poets, members of the second and third generations continue to publish new work on the Holocaust. This season, in time for the commemoration of Yom HaShoah, there are impressive historical works, memoirs of lost childhoods, personal testimonies and artful works of fiction; many written by those who feel an obligation to those whose voices were stilled.

In Spring a reader’s fancy turns to thoughts of … books

In Spring a reader\'s fancy turns to thoughts of ... books.

Books: Max Apple is a bard of the background

One of the best American short story writers, Apple has just published \"The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories\" (Johns Hopkins Press), his first collection of stories in 20 years. He writes with the same playful imagination and comic intelligence as in his earlier stories, layered with irony and an infallible sense of detail.

Writer spins thrillers from his own undercover adventures

Jet lag launched Haggai Carmon into his career as an author. The international lawyer found himself in a small, unheated hotel room in a remote country he won\'t identify. He was on U.S. government assignment, collecting intelligence on a violent criminal organization, but his security cover had been blown, and he was advised by Interpol not to leave his hotel room.Tired, but too scared to sleep, Carmon sat at a child-sized desk with his laptop computer and spun 100 pages of a thriller based on, but disguising, his experiences. Those first 100 pages became the basis for \"Triple Identity,\" the first in a series of three thrillers featuring Dan Gordon, a lawyer and former Mossad agent working for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Books: ‘Holy’ Ethically Speaking — Rabbi Joseph Telushkin Covers It All

When it comes to ethics, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin is an idealist and an activist. He\'d like to see Jews develop moral imaginations as much as intellectual imaginations, parents praise children for their kind acts as much as for their academic achievements and individuals improve their track records in doing the right thing.

The Perfect Reads for Those Lazy Days of Summer

This season brings engaging reading in a mix of genres: literary fiction, comedy, love stories, detective novels, memoirs, historical fiction and books that break genre boundaries; books by veteran authors and others not-yet well-known.

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